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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Story of Crime and Punishment (The)
by A.B. Yehoshua
Age Range: 9-11
Rodion Raskolnikov is an ex-student living in St. Petersburg who falls on hard times. Becoming desperate, he pawns his remaining few, treasured possessions. Once his last few coins have been spent he hatches a dastardly plan to kill the unscrupulous pawnbroker for her money. However, his crime goes horribly wrong when he is forced to kill an innocent woman, the pawnbroker’s half-sister Lizaveta. There are many twists and turns in the story and throughout Raskolnikov is pursued by the ingenious detective Porfiry who believes right from the outset that he is guilty of these heinous crimes.
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment was written in 1866 and is one of the great classics of literature. The story focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Raskolnikov. In order to justify his actions Raskolnikov argues that murder is permissible in the pursuit of a higher purpose. With the pawnbroker's money he can perform good deeds which will counterbalance the crime, while ridding the world of a worthless individual.
Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua mentions in the epilogue that his publisher was very sceptical about the suitability of his choice for their ‘Save the Story’ series. Crime and Punishment is a difficult novel to adapt but Yehoshua has managed to create an engaging retelling for a younger audience. Admittedly, the overall plot has had to be simplified; taking out the complexities of the original, but it nevertheless, still manages to give a flavour of Dostoyevsky's masterpiece.
The Story of Crime and Punishment is part of the ‘Save the Story’ series, a selection of classic stories from around the world that have been retold for today’s children. The series was conceived by Italian writer Alessandro Baricco working in close collaboration with the Scuola Holders in Turin, founded specially to develop new and innovative ways of telling stories.